Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy "New Beginning"!

"It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because his [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
 great and abundant is your stability and faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:23,24 (AMP)

I'm not in to New Year's Resolutions. It seems like we make them hoping we can fulfill our goals. But when we inevitably give up, well....when I inevitably give just feels like failure. I see no reason to set myself up to fail. But.....

I do believe in second chances.
I do believe in do-overs.
I do believe in new beginnings.

I serve a God who is known for giving second chances; and third, and fourth, etc.
I serve a God who loves me enough to give me a "do-over".
I serve a God who  is the author of new beginnings.

Yesterday I was feeling a little down. The holidays tend to do that to me. It started about 21 years ago; not sure if it was because we left all our families in Texas or if it's the long, dark dreary winters here in the Northwest. Maybe a bit of both. But I do know that if I'm not careful I can find myself in the dumps very easily. And then of course, this was the first Christmas without my Mom and Aunt Jo; and Mitchell, my 19 year old son who moved to Georgia this summer. And looking back over the last year and all the changes and difficult times we've had....well, I began to throw myself a mini pity party and found myself having a conversation with God....

"You know what, God? I have spent this entire year wishing it was over.....and now it is. But what is different?  Mom is still gone; Mitchell is still in Georgia; it's still winter in the northwest; and my family still lives in Texas.  What did I think as going to happen? All of a sudden I would wake up on January 1 and I would feel better? All of this waiting didn't accomplish anything....when I look back on 2011 from my perspective all I really see is a lot of wasted time. So what now?"

Ok, it wasn't so much a conversation as it was a soliloquy.

But, God in His faithfulness gently and quietly reminded me that while a lot of my circumstances have not changed, He does not change, either. And through this whole time, in every circumstance and every trial, He has been there doing His part. But I just kept waiting for the year to be over. I have a mental picture of a little child who has been hurt. This wounded, crying child runs to their father and climbs up in His lap for comfort, which the father gives. There is a moment of being consoled, and then one of just resting in the comfort of his arms. But before long, the child jumps up and is on the run again.

I have been consoled; 
I have been comforted; 
but I didn't get back on the run again. 
Because the reality is, life is different. 
And I don't like the changes. 
I'd rather sit in my Father's lap and be comforted. 

And, truth be told...pout.

As Lamentations points out, it is because of His mercy and love that I have not been consumed  by all of this; his compassion is never ending and we get a fresh supply of them each and every morning.

I'm not the only one who has had a rough year. My sisters have each struggled with the loss of our mom and aunt. Other friends have lost family members this year. Many are struggling with health issues; lost employment; lost homes.... life changing circumstances. And we have all been comforted by a loving Father.

Because God is a God of second chances, do-overs, new beginnings.

And so, let's not receive this grace in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1); let's finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given us...the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. (Acts 20:24).

It's time to step down out of His lap and get back to business...His business. He has things for me to do...plans, purposes, a future, hope. And while I may step down out of His lap, I will never be out of His sight, never be out of His arms...

Because He holds my world in His hands.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Come and Worship....

I was driving home from one of my many errands...
listening to music on the car radio...
listening to Christmas carols...
I found myself wondering ....

What was it like 
to kneel at the manger?

We sing songs like 
Come and Worship, 
Away in a Manger, 
Angels We Have Heard on High, 
Oh Come Let Us Adore Him. 

We worship Jesus knowing now what they didn't know then. 
We know what He has done for us. 
He lived a sinless life 
He healed the sick
He raised the dead 
He gave his life...
He died a horrible death that we may have life 
He defeated death and the grave
He sits at the right hand of the Father... 
interceding for us. 

We see Him as Savior and Lord
They only saw a baby....
lying in a manger

They knew what the angels had said...

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 
Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. 
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths 
and lying in a manger." 
(Luke 2:10-12)
The shepherds were doing what shepherds do....  
Standing out in a field counting sheep
On a clear, cold, starry night
An uneventful evening. 
Not too terribly exciting. 
When suddenly....
an angel appears... 

Why those shepherds?
What did they do that made them special?
Were they just in the right place at the right time?

They knew what the prophets and foretold. 
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, 
and the government will be on his shoulders. 
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
 Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 
(Isaiah 9:6)

The magi....wise men, kings, astronomers... 
Searching for the baby the prophets foretold... 
Traveling for a long time.... 
Determined to find this child...
And when they did...
They gave him gifts...
And worshiped him.

Who were these men?
Why were they so persistent?
How did they know this baby was different?

From dirty shepherds to influential men; 
From the fields to the palaces; 
From near and from far....
They set all aside...
And they came...
To worship...

What was it like...
To kneel at the manger?
To kneel before this tiny baby....
Who was the Creator of the world?

Can you sense the wonder?
Can you hear the hush?
Can you feel the awe?

As we near the day...
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, 
in the midst of the hustle and bustle,
the shopping and the baking,
the wrapping and the unwrapping,
stop for just a moment
and kneel at the manger...

Come and worship
Christ the new born king.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

It's Nice to Meet You....

"Go into all the world 
and preach the good news
 to all creation."
Mark 16:15 

I have been writing this blog for a little over two years. At first, I wondered if anyone would even know I was here and who would be interested enough to read my thoughts and ramblings. I started it just for me; a place to journal what God was teaching me and where He was leading me. I was amazed when people I know began to comment to me that they were blessed by my writing. Wow! That meant people were actually reading it!

At the bottom of my blog page is a map of the world. If you look at it, you will see little white hearts that mark the locations of the people who visit my blog site. I am amazed again! Some of the locations are places I have never visited...actually most of them are places I have never visited; not do I know people who live there.

I am humbled....

Debbi, 'Lena, Margie, Annette
I was chatting with my sister the other day; she has recently begun writing, also. She mentioned that someone in Russia had visited her page. We do not know anyone in Russia! Debbi has always had a heart for missions and would have been a wonderful missionary. But after marrying and raising eight children, she has not had the opportunity to go on many mission trips to spread the gospel to all the world. But suddenly, as we were talking I realized....

That is exactly what we are doing!

With our writing and in this age of advanced technology, we are "going into all the world" spreading the message of Jesus and sharing the love of the Father. I tell you, it has changed the way I think about the things I share. When I began this blog, I did it for me, but realizing that others are reading brings an awareness of a great responsibility. What I write should be encouraging, uplifting, biblically accurate and always point others to God. I pray that I am doing that very thing.

Again, I am humbled that you visit me and thrilled that you come back again and again. It is my prayer that each time you visit you are blessed and encouraged. 

I have created a Guest Book page which you can find at the top of this blog site. I would be honored if you would sign in and tell me a bit about yourself. Since I can't see you face to face, I would love to know...

Who you are...
Where do you live?
How did you find this site?
What is God doing in your life?
What is God doing through  your life?
How can I and the others visiting pray for you?

I have several "blog-sisters". These are women I have never met, but we know each other through our blogs. It is a bit like having a pen-pal and God has knit our hearts together through our writing. I love that I can be struggling with something in my heart and just by opening up a web page, I can connect with someone on the other side of the country or the world and find encouragement and love from another follower of Christ. Isn't that amazing?

"I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, 
because your faith is being reported all over the world."
Romans 1:8

God bless you all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

This is the Day...Rejoice!

"This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

I had to get up at 3:45 am today to take my husband to work. We only have one car and on Saturdays we each have early morning Bible Studies we attend. I usually drop him off at his men's group and then I head over to my friend, Janet's house for our ladies group. But this morning, Mark had to work some overtime. Not something he likes to do, but circumstances necessitated it. But, that meant in order for me to attend my Saturday morning ladies group, I had to drive him in to work.

Have I ever mentioned I'm not a morning person?

Anyway, as I was driving home I was praying and really just complaining to God. You see, this year hasn't been all that fun. And I have spent most of it wishing it would just be over. On the one hand I have said, "God has new mercy every morning".... and He does. But I have also said, "This year is really @$%#% and I just want it to be over!"

As I was driving home, tears running down my face, two Psalms popped into my head...

"This is the day the Lord has made;
 rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24

and right behind that one....

"Let the words of my mouth
and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord, my strength
and my Redeemer."
Psalm 119.14

Well, needless to say I was convicted on both counts. The first verse reminded me that every day is a gift from the Lord and each one has new mercy, new opportunities and new divine appointments if we but look for them. The second verse is the benediction we say after every service at our church. It is also one of the earliest verses I remember memorizing as a child. And yet, the words of my mouth have been speaking death into each day of this year.

It's time to turn this around.

We still are facing many challenges this holiday season. I would covet your prayers for our family, immedate and extended members. The Holy Spirit will guide you in what to pray. There are health issues, financial issues, relational issues, employment issues, emotional issues... this will be the first Christmas without my Mom and Aunt Jo, and the first Christmas my son, Mitchell won't be home with the family. And while our Christmas trees are beautiful, there's nothing under them....well, except the cat, Jasper.

So, the challenge to myself I also extend to you....

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart declare
that this IS the day the Lord has made...
REJOICE! And be glad in it!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Be Still....

"Be still and know that I am God."
Psalm 46:10

This is the verse that started me on this journey over two years ago. It reminds me that no matter what craziness there is in the world, God is in control. I have held tightly to this verse with both hands and all my heart for over two years, because I knew that no matter what, if I could just hold on tight everything would be okay.

Remember those words...
 "hold on tight"

Tonight I was reading an article on this very verse and I learned something new.The word translated "be still" comes from the Hebrew term raphah which means "that which is slack, to drop, to be weak". The thought was that God is commanding us to "be weak, drop all your worries...I got this!" (I'm paraphrasing again). 

Kind of the opposite of "hold on tight"; and yet, it's not really. Because I still believe we need to hold onto Jesus; hold on to the promises of God; hold on to our faith that He has everything in control. But I think the problem we sometimes face is that while we are holding on so tight to what we believe is our faith, we are in actuality still holding on tight to the situations we are desperately trying to give to God.

My family is facing some real challenges this holiday season. And while I know God is telling me to "be still" in the sense that I need to not fret and worry, I think He may also be telling me to "go slack, let it weak". Because if I hold on too tightly, I live in tension and anxiety. But if I drop it into His Hands and become weak...then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10).

God is in control and I am not. The writer of this article said, "...we need to drop our hands, go limp, relax and chill out". Still taking responsibility for those things we need to do, but allowing God to do those things He will do. A friend sent me a message today that said,

"Faith is not believing God can; 
Faith is believing that God will.

What burdens are you carrying today? What worries are keeping you awake at night? What are you trying to do in your own strength that you just aren't able to accomplish?

Be still.....and know that He is God.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sustaining Grace

"For the Lord God is a Sun and Shield; 
the Lord bestows [present] grace and favor 
and [future] glory (honor, splendor, and heavenly bliss)! 
No good thing will He withhold 
from those who walk uprightly."
Psalm 84:11

This morning I was contemplating all that I have to be thankful for and all the ways God has sustained me this year. I took a few minutes to read my sister's blog post, Purpose & Joy. She mentions that we have two empty seats at our table this year. They are not literal seats for me as my family lives in Texas, but empty seats in my heart. I actually have four empty seats for four precious people who went home to be with Jesus this year. 

I began to think back to January when I received the phone call that Momma and Aunt Jo had been in a car accident...Aunt Jo was gone and Momma was not doing well. I made that trip to Texas with my two oldest boys and it was hard. Probably the hardest thing I have ever had to do. My life changed that week and I didn't think I could do it...

But for His sustaining Grace...

During those six days, time after time I felt like I had hit the wall; I could go no further. One more trip to the hospital. One more decision to be made. Then the funeral. The graveside. Cleaning out the apartment. And going to the nursing home to see Daddy...who didn't know or understand what had happened.

And each time I told God, 
"I'm done! I can't do anymore!" 
But for His sustaining Grace...

So today, as I look back over the year and all the challenges we have had to face, I remember His Grace that carried me through those six days in Texas. And I realize that same Grace has carried me through this entire year. Through the loss of my Mom and Aunt; the loss of my dear friend, Lori and another precious saint, Ruth; the strain of finances; the challenge of a move we did not expect or instigate; the pain of broken family relationships; and even the "growing pains" we suffer when our children grow up and move on with their own lives. Each time I again said, "God, I just can't do anymore".

But for His sustaining Grace...

"For out of His fullness (abundance) we have all received 
[all had a share and we were all supplied with] 
one grace after another and 
spiritual blessing upon spiritual blessing
 and even favor upon favor 
and gift [heaped] upon gift."
John 1:16 (amp)

Not only did He carry me through each and every circumstance, but He granted me favor time and time again. He has blessed me over and over with friends who have stood beside me, carried me through the difficult times. He has provided in ways we could never imagine. He has reminded me repeatedly that He is faithful. And through the hurts and disappointments, and yes, there have been hurts and disappointments, He gently nudges me and says, "It's not about you." 

So, as I reflect on Thanksgiving today I have much to be thankful for. I have shed my own tears this week as I miss the ones who are not with me, as I reflect on the changes in my life and my family and as I adapt to those changes. But His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). And His promises are Yes and Amen! And no matter what the future holds He will be right there beside me all the way. 

As you count your Blessings today, as the old hymn says, name by one. 

Friends and loved ones; 
Family, near and far; 
Food on the table; 
Clothes on your back; 
Roof over your head; 
Love of the Father; 
Redemption by the Son; 
Guidance of the Holy Spirit...
and His sustaining Grace through it all.

"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. 
My love to all of you in Christ Jesus. Amen! 
(1 Corinthians 16:18)

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

He Sings Over You....

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save. 
He will take great delight in you, 
He will quiet you with His love,
 He will rejoice over you with singing."
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

I needed this verse today. As most of you are aware, this has been a difficult and eventful year for my family. And I am so grateful for the grace God has shown us in the midst of these hard times. 

Last night was kind of a mixed bag of emotions. I was at choir rehearsal getting ready for Sunday services. Geron & Becky Davis are our guests this weekend and he was teaching us some new songs. It was a good night. It was a fun night. But somewhere in the midst of it my emotions overcame me. 

I was missing Momma .... 
I just really wanted to talk to her. 

At the end of rehearsal, Geron read to us some lyrics to a new song he was writing, and I really began to wonder if he had been following me around all year. I had a chance to speak to him after rehearsal and told him he needed to put music to it quickly so we could sing it. He reminded me that while we don't see the big picture, God does. And while I may not understand why we have faced all the challenges we have this year, God is faithful. 

This morning I woke up really early and my mind was running (as our minds so easily can do at 4am). And I found this verse...Zephaniah 3:17. I am so glad God's word is alive and active. Because it was what I needed .... today!

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save..." He hasn't left me to face these challenges alone. He is my Father and I can run to Him. He has a plan, a purpose, and a solution to every situation we face. He is our fortress, our refuge...our haven.

"He will take great delight in you"... Wow! How often do we stop and realize that He delights in us? If you have children or grandchildren, just think about how much delight they give you. They aren't always perfect, they don't always do things the way you think they should. But still, don't they just bring a smile to your face when you think of them? The definition of delight is "great rapture, joy". My children and my little granddaughter bring me joy. And when the Father looks at us it gives Him great  joy.

"He will quiet you with His love"...The Common English Bible says, "He will create calm with His love". How often do we find ourselves caught up in the chaos of our situations, and yet when we just spend time in His presence, we feel the calm, the peace of God saturate us. His love creates calm. 

"He rejoices over you with singing"... This was what started the whole thought process this morning. Last night as we were singing to Him, Geron spoke of the music, the song, the melody, being pleasing to God. The chorus from his song was...

Let my song bring hope
Let my song bring peace
Let it's melody be pleasing
As it rising to Your throne
And may Your name be glorified
With my song.

That was the purpose of our song. And yet this morning I read "He rejoices over  you with singing." God sings over us. Makes me wonder if in those times of chaos that bring us to Him, does He sing to us? Kind of a lullaby brings a peace and a calm to us in the midst of our storm. 

No matter your circumstances today, no matter your storm, stop for just a moment, listen carefully and you'll hear Him sing over you.


Monday, November 7, 2011

Giants in the Land...

"This was back in the days...
when there were giants in the land. 
The giants came from the union of the sons of God 
and the daughters of men."
Genesis 6:3 (MSG)

We are facing some giants. 
Big, ugly, intimidating giants. 
And we look like grasshoppers in our own sight. 

This verse in Genesis is speaking of literal giants that were conceived when the sons of God united with the daughters of men. And as I read it tonight, I realized that we still create giants today. Not literal people giants, but situations we find ourselves in that came about because we, the sons of God, have united with the ways of man to create situations in our lives that become giants. They can take many forms and come in many shapes and sizes.

Financial giants
Health giants
Relational giants
Employment giants
Addiction giants


In Genesis 6, God was so fed up with mankind and his sinful ways, that He determined to wipe them out and start over again. He found one righteous man and his family worthy of saving...a remnant. And so God sent a flood to destroy all the earth's living inhabitants except Noah and his little family and a whole boat full of animals. But He promised He would never destroy the earth again....although I wonder if He doesn't sometimes wish He could change His mind. 

I am so grateful for His
Redeeming Love

Because there are giants in the land again. And instead of wiping out mankind and starting all over again, He has promised a way of deliverance. He has promised to go before us in the battle; to stand beside us in the fight and to protect us as a rear guard. I love that about God! He surrounds us! And even when we have created those giants ourselves, when we humbly come before Him and ask for mercy and grace, He freely bestows it upon us and gives us a way of escape. And when those giants rise up against us we can boldly and confidently say,

"You come against me with 
sword and spear and javelin, 
but I come against you 
in the name of the Lord Almighty" 
(I Samuel 17:45 NIV)

What giants are you facing? 
You are not in this battle alone...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Wounded Heart....

"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted 
and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
Psalm 34:18

Last week I wrote about An Abandoned Heart and during the course of the week, God continued to reveal to me what an open heart looks like. As I pondered it through the week, I realized that an abandoned heart for God also means an open heart to others. I can't really be abandoned to Him and hold my heart closed to others. Throughout most of my life, I have lived a guarded life. Very few people, even now, know who I really am. Because of times in my life that I have been open to others and  revealed my true heart only to find my heart wounded, I was one of those people who held my heart closed to others. By Saturday morning during my quiet time, I realized it was time to fully surrender. So I sat with my Bible and my cup of tea and told the Lord, "Here's my heart, fully surrendered to you; I no longer want to hide from you, but neither do I want to hide who I am from those you have put in my life".

I guess it's no surprise that the enemy came at me with a vengeance.

My open, abandoned heart quickly became a wounded heart. And I was broken. The first instinct is to withdraw again. "See, Lord...I did what you asked me to do, and look what happened!" My husband quickly reminded me that in the last couple years God has not only allowed me to pour my life into others, but in opening my own heart I have allowed others to pour into me. And this year would not have been as bearable had I not dropped the walls and allowed others to see my vulnerabilities and support me through the fire. We were not meant to walk this life alone; God created us to be relational people and while our ultimate and most important relationship is with Him....we need each other. If I go back to hiding my heart from others then I have let the enemy win this battle. That is not an option.

I have felt His presence today; He has been close to this broken heart. And while I have shed many tears and asked the question "why?" repeatedly, I will surrender my heart once again to Him, open it to others and protect it with the armor of God. 

My abandoned heart became a wounded heart; 
but the love of my Father will make it a perfect heart.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Abandoned Heart....

"O Lord, You have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me."
Psalm 139:1

I am so grateful and inspired by songwriters. They have an amazing gift for taking ordinary words and putting them to music in such a way to move us not only to worship,but also to grasp Biblical truths in such a way as to change our ordinary lives and way of thinking. 

Music speaks to me.....

Tonight at our church prayer meeting, we sang a song call I'll Stand. The chorus says, 

I'll stand 
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe
Of the One who gave it all
I'll stand
My soul, Lord, to You surrendered
All I am, is Yours.

As we ended the song and went into a time of corporate worship, I stood there on the platform thanking God that I could enter His throne room and stand with my arms held high and my heart open to Him. In my mind, I went back to Sunday.....

Last Sunday morning, Pastor Tyler and his wife, Kizzie preached a sermon together on relationships...namely, the marriage relationship and how it is to be a picture of our relationship with God. Kizzie told of an evening when she was at church in worship and the Lord gave her a picture. I can't tell the story as well as she, but the gist of it was she had entered the throne room of heaven and Jesus was sitting at the right hand of the God. Kizzie was dirty - her clothes, her face, and she left a trail of dirt behind her. But Jesus came off the throne, approached her and kissed her on the forehead. As he did, she became clean. Her filthy rags were gone and she was dressed in a white robe. 

Back to I stood there in worship, remembering her story, thanking God that I could stand in His throne room with my heart bared before Him I realized that even if I didn't "abandon" my heart to Him, He still knew what was in it. The light of His love shines into our hearts and sees everything anyway. my heart I saw many people standing with their arms  crossed almost hugging themselves. I knew they were trying to hide their heart. There were things in their heart that they didn't want anyone to see.


I understand them. I've been there. I have stood in worship with my hands held high, but inside I was holding my heart back. I didn't want anyone to see what I was hiding or holding onto. Not even God. We may be able to come to church and put on our "spiritual face" and fool others into thinking all is well. But here's the thing....we can't hide from Him. He knows what we are holding back. When we walk into that throne room with our dirt and baggage, Jesus steps in and makes us clean. What I saw tonight were people coming in and trying to hide behind others, hide behind their own worship, covering their hearts so no one, including God the Father, could see their dirt. And in my heart I began to sing another song....

Blood of Jesus, shed for me
Precious blood, my covering be
The only view God has of me
Is through the blood of Jesus.

That blood has washed us clean. If you will give Him your whole heart, Jesus' blood has made it clean and you can fully abandon it to Him.

I believe I was supposed to speak out tonight, but indecision held me back. I should have listened to my own thoughts and "abandoned" my heart to Him. But fear and pride held me back. So, since I didn't speak out at church, I'm writing it down.  I wasn't sure I could communicate verbally what was in my heart and mind. I'm not sure I have communicated it well even here.

The next time you approach the throne room, whether in a corporate setting or in the privacy of your own prayer closet, try abandoning your heart to Him. Don't hold anything back...surrender it all to Him. There is nothing you can hide from Him. His love illuminates everything; His blood covers everything. 

So take the opportunity to give it all .....                
                             the One who gave it all.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Perfection vs. Completetion....

"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you 
will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Philippians 1:6

This is in response to a dear friend who wrote a blog post today titled "I Get That A Lot..."  She's a young mom of three, works full time and tries to spend quality time with her husband and children. It's hard....been there, done that and washed all the t-shirts!

Her point was that many of her friends and acquaintances see her as Wonder Woman. But the reality is....we are not. Sometimes we put on the face so that others think we have it all together; when in fact we are barely hanging on.

I get it.

About 22 years ago when I was a young mom with two small children, I too worked full time. I left the house at 6am, dropped the kids with the sitter (my mom), spent an hour in traffic as I drove to work, worked eight full hours and then drove another hour to pick up the boys. By the time I arrived home again I had been gone twelve hours. Then was dinner, baths and playtime with the boys before bed and trying to spend time with the husband, too. Then there were church activities, friends, etc.


I had a friend who had two boys the same age as mine; she was a stay at home mom. Often she would say to me, "Lena, I don't know how you do it!" My reply to her was...."You do what you have to do". 

The laundry was not always done
The house was not always clean
The groceries were often bought late at night after the kids were in bed
Many times I felt insufficient.
And perfection? Please!! No chance!

None of us will ever be perfect, no matter how hard we try. There is a great deal of frustration to be found in perfectionism. But one thing I have found to be true.... we can be complete!

Deuteronomy 16:15b says, "For the LORD your God will bless you in all your harvest and in all the work of your hands, and your joy will be complete." As moms, working or not, we lead very busy lives. We have a great deal of responsibility that has been bestowed upon us, especially in the raising of our children. And yes, most of us have husbands to participate in that, but the nurturing usually falls on the mom. I remember after having my first child thinking, "What on earth do I do now?"  But I learned quickly that if I gave my day to Him, it went a whole lot better. And when I didn't complete all the tasks on my to-do list, I knew that tomorrow was a new day with new mercy from Him. 

That's not to say that there were no trials, failures, mistakes or days I wish I could do over again. But James tells us, "...the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so you may be mature and complete..." (James 1:3,4) 

And so, my sweet friend, I know you are a are a hard worker, a faithful wife, and a loving mom. You are not Wonder Woman....neither am I. But we are strong women of God who want the best for our families and ourselves. He will not leave you to run this race alone.....He will bring you to completion!

Love you!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How You Love Me....

Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You
How You love me.

How wide...
How deep...
How great...
Is Your love for me.

You may recognize these words; they are from a beautiful chorus that we sang in church yesterday morning. It got me to does that, remember?

So much of the time we hear and sometimes believe that we are unworthy of God's love for us. No where that I am aware of does God's Word say that.  It does say that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but it also says that even in our sin, God still loved us (Romans 5:8). So at first as I began to think of these words, I wondered, "Why should we be amazed by His love for us?"

God is our Father; and as such He loves us. If you are a parent, do you not love your children? More importantly, do you only love them when they are well behaved? When they do just as you have asked them? As parents, we love our children....unconditionally. No matter what they do, they are still our children and we love them.

I began to think about Eve who had two sons, Cain and Abel. Considering the outcome of their relationship I think it's safe to assume that like most brothers, they fought. They most likely had a hard time sharing their toys. Perhaps just the differences in their personalities caused them to rub each other the wrong way. Abel may have been the compliant child...always ready to do the right thing, help with whatever needed to be done, polite and obedient. Perhaps Cain was the more challenging child of the two...wanting to pursue his own interests, less likely to obey the first time he is asked, perhaps a bit more verbal in his dislike of people and/or situations. Whatever their childhoods were like it is apparent that there was jealousy on the part of Cain as they became young men.

We don't generally dwell on how Adam and Eve felt after Cain killed Abel. We get caught up in the story as we consider the horrific idea that one brother would kill another. But put yourself in their son is dead, and the other is the murderer. Can you even imagine the pain this mother felt? These were the boys she had carried for months in her womb; these were the boys she  had taught to walk and talk. These were the boys she had rocked to sleep and told stories. These were the boys that Adam had trained in the way to grow food from the ground; how to tend to the animals; how to protect the family. These were his sons....his pride and joy. And in a moment of time....both were gone. One to death and one to exile.

Did they still love Cain? After he had done this horrible thing, after in his anger and jealousy he had robbed them of their other son....could they love him?

I love my children....with all of my heart! They have not always done things that made me proud of them. They have not always done the right thing in all situations. They have disappointed me; they have hurt me. They haven't killed each other, but there were times when I thought they might! But no matter what they did or have done....I love them. 

How wide...
How deep...
How great...
Is Your love for me.

I am amazed by His love for me....but not because I am unworthy of His love. I am amazed at His love  because of HOW He loves me. 

How wide? 
"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us". (Psalm 103:12) 

No matter what we've done, His redeeming blood has covered us and those sins are removed....moved from one place to another. My children have asked me what it means "as far as the east is from the west". It's kind of an abstract concept to wrap your mind around. If you start heading east you will never reach west because you are always going east. That's pretty far to have your sins removed....can't get much "wider" than that!

How deep? 
"Neither height north depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39) 

God's love for us runs so deep, that even when we return to our old ways and disappoint Him we cannot be separated from His love. 

How great?
"Because of the Lords great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail." (Lamentations 3:22). "For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens..." (Psalm 57:10a)

Because of the greatness, the hugeness of His love, we are not left to die in our sins. His compassion is so great that He made a way of redemption for us...through the death and resurrection of His son. Another infinite view of God's love. The picture of His love reaching to the infinite length of time and space. There is no end to His great love.

I am amazed by how He loves me. Not because I don't deserve it, or I'm not worth it. Because of His grace and the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, I am a new creature. My "filthy" righteousness has been washed clean and replaced with His righteousness. I don't have to "earn" or "deserve" His love. He bestows it upon me freely. I am amazed by how He loves me because in spite of all the millions of people on the planet, He knows me ... intimately! 

the number of hairs on my head; 
the deepest, most secret desires of my heart; 
the hurts and disappointments that I tell no one.

I can't get lost in the crowd....
My name is permanently etched on His hand and is ever before His face! 

He cares about the most important things I face;
He cares about the most trivial things I face.

He not only provides for the basic needs of life, like a home for us to live in;
But He blesses me by providing one with a view of the water.

He rejoices with me when I am happy;
He holds me when I cry.

He encourages me when I am insecure;
He guides me when I don't know which way to turn.

He cheers me on when I step out in faith;
He lifts me up when I fall.

There is no way to explain it;
There is no way to measure it.

Lord, I'm amazed by You...
How You love me!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As the World Turns....

"For everything there is a season, 
and a time for every matter under heaven"
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Back in the early 60's a group called "The Byrds" recorded a song written by Pete Seeger called Turn, Turn, Turn based on Ecclesiastes 3. Though that was considerably before my time (well, maybe not considerably), it is a song that has endured through the years, attesting to the fact that God's Word endures forever, even when it is used in a rock and roll song. 

That song has been turning around in my head (no pun intended) today because I've arrived at another season in my life. 

The Bible talks a lot about seasons. God created the moon to mark the seasons (Psalm 104:19); the animals know the seasons and when it is time to migrate (Jeremiah 8:7); God Himself changes the times and the seasons (Daniel 2:21). And Acts 1:7 says it's not for us to know the seasons that God has appointed by His own authority. 

they come and they go.

As the world turns on it's axis and in doing so creates the different weather patterns of our seasons, our lives often do the same. Sometimes we are the in the springtime of our lives where we make new plans and start new adventures. 

Birth of babies
New jobs
These are all new beginnings.

And after springtime comes summer when we begin to see the growth of the things we have planted. And after summer comes the harvest of those moments, ideas, adventures. And I think of the winter as a time to rest up and create new ideas for the spring to come. Okay....sounds kind of corny, but just be patient with me. I'm having a thought, here....

It has struck me that while each of us go through seasons in our lives, they don't always coincide with one another, nor do they follow the same time-lines. Let me explain....

My son, Mitchell is 19 years old. Last year he went away to college and while that was difficult for me to let him go, I new it was for a short "season" and he would be back in a few months. When he came home for the summer, he realized that he was moving into a different "season" in his life. This was no longer his home; no longer was this where he belonged. So after much thought, discussion and prayer, he came to the conclusion that God was calling him to move to Georgia. (NOTE: for any of you who are not aware, we live in Washington state.....that's a long way from Georgia!). 

Monday, I put Mitchell on a plane as he left behind his family and moved into a new phase, a new "season" of his life. This is his springtime where God is planting him in new soil and nurturing him so his roots will grow deep. 

However, this is my autumn...the time when I have to pull him out of his roots here at home and send him on his way. It's harvest time for me....and I'm proud of the young man he has become. I am proud of the hard work Mark and I have put into nurturing him. I am proud of the way Mitchell has allowed his roots to grow deep into God's Word and has listened to the voice of his Father. 

Mitchell's springtime
is my harvest. 

There was never any doubt in my mind that this was the right move for him. But still, when I hugged him goodbye, I put my hand on his heart and asked, "Mitchell, are you sure...right here?" And he said, "Yes, mom, this is what I have to do."

I'll be hurt. But no one ever said doing the right thing was going to be the easy thing to do. 

The next day after Mitchell got settled in to his new home in Georgia he posted as his status on Facebook...

"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'"
Genesis 12:1-3

He knew with a calm assurance that he was where he belonged...where God had called him to bel. I will always be Mitchell's momma, and I will always miss him when he is not nearby. But I am so grateful that we serve a God who has promised to bless him.

And not only that, but He has promised to bless those who bless Mitchell. And so to the Payne family who has taken him in and promised to love him and guide him on his way I say this....

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, 
remembering you in my prayers."
Ephesians 1:16

Seasons come and seasons go. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, rest assured God is fully aware of the season you are in, for he has set the times and seasons in motion. There is a time for every purpose under heaven. And we can rest in His love, grace, mercy and faithfulness!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Holy Moment....

"...for the place where you are standing is holy ground."
Exodus 3:5

A really silly thing happened the other day; but sometimes it's the small, silly, trivial things that speak the loudest to me. The details aren't important, but it got me to thinking about holy moments

Moses and the burning bush. (Exodus 3) 
 ....a holy moment.

Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. (Daniel 3) The Lord stood there in the fire with them
....a holy moment.

The shepherd's bowing at the manger. (Luke 2)
....a holy moment.

Saul on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9)
....a holy moment.

Times when ordinary people encountered 
an extraordinary God
....a holy moment.

Last week, a very dear friend of mine held her mother in her arms as she slipped from this world into eternity. She told me the presence of the Lord was so strong in that room, as her mother worshiped the Lord. I was reminded of just a few months earlier when I did the same....I held my mother's hand as she took her final breath on this earth and took her first breath in Heaven. I told my friend that I realized at that moment we were standing at Heaven's gate....watching our mother's walk through. Though it was sorrowful for us, it was truly a life-changing, awe-inspiring.... holy moment.

There have been times in worship where the presence of the Lord is so strong that I have literally been brought to my knees. Knowing that I was in the presence of the Holy God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, King of all creation.......a holy moment.

As I pondered this, I realized that every time I remembered a holy moment it took place in the presence of the Holy God. And as believers, we dwell in His presence. I'm reminded of a song...of course!

This is the air I breathe
This is the air I breathe
Your Holy presence
Living in me...

We breathe in His very presence. We live in the presence of the King. Which makes every moment of our lives........a holy moment. 

Every time we say, "God, I need You to help me...
I can't do this alone!" and He does....
....a holy moment.

Every time we ask for something as trivial 
as a good parking spot and we get one....
....a holy moment.

If we really think about it, every moment of our lives is, 
or can be....
...a holy moment.

So, what are your holy moments today? Are you looking for them? Or are you over-looking them? Because just as God told Moses as he stood in His presence at the burning bush....the place where you are standing is holy ground.

And this is your holy moment.....